What’s Honesty?

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Your ultimate goal as you go to an interview is really quite simple – get something outta him or her that has never been posted before, i.e., get your interviewee to just be HONEST.

Life got a lot easier, though, once I understood the huge logical fallacy this pursuit bears.

I mean, think about it – when are YOU ever really honest? Your Mom knows things about you, then so does your boyfriend, and your friends could surely tell a lot about you, too (or, well, here’s to hoping…) – but whenever we get a chance to look better, we grab it. And that is especially true if you happen to be a celebrity. The funny thing is that even if somebody says something well within their character, now we’d hardly ever say: “Wow, cool, now here’s some honesty right there.” What we do think first, though, is something like: “Yea, (s)he sure knows how public relations work.”

It’s no longer about just telling people something – it turned into management of your public image.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that this is not necessarily a bad thing – and yes, it did happen during an interview. One of my questions to Gitana Bukauskienė, Editor-in-Chief of “Laima”, one of the most influential magazines for women, was as follows:

“How quickly can you tell if the interviewee is being honest, or just giving you a well-prepared answer?”

And what she said was:

“But what’s wrong with a good answer, even if it was prepared and learned by heart beforehand? You don’t always have to strip people of their masks and wash away all of their make-up. These are just the rules of this game we’re in.”

madonna

But then again – even if we establish that we don’t necessarily need a person to be honest, we still need them to open up – to build their character of some sort. And that’s really one of the most unpredictable elements – you never know if the interviewee will be in a good mood and even if (s)he will feel like opening up to a stranger (who will, most likely, be younger than them). I basically had two strategies for my interviews – on the one hand, I would let people know that I did do my research and have come prepared, but then on the other – I would find the time to say “OK, I gotta confess – I’m completely clueless about X and Y, so more than interviewing you, I really just want to figure this out myself.” This would put me in a different position: instead of feeling that I’m prying, the interviewee would see me more as someone who’s seeking an honest opinion or some advice from an expert. Sure, this doesn’t apply equally to different situations, but the general model can always be altered.

One of the best interviews I have ever read was when David Blaine talked to Madonna for the “Interview” magazine – I strongly doubt, however, that she would’ve up opened up to such extent, had she been talking to anyone else. None of us, and probably not even Mr Blaine himself will ever know how truthful Madonna was – but once she felt that she’s facing someone equally strong, she didn’t hesitate to make it interesting.

In the end, we’re all characters, and we’re building ourselves everywhere we go – we have our images at work, around our friends, family and neighbors. And it once hit me – nobody really needs honest interviews. We just need good ones. And I don’t mean lying: as much as I’d wanna convince someone that I’m secretly a street-racer at night, those who know me will immediately oppose with multiple examples of the ridiculous decisions I make when driving. So what I might wanna do instead is figure out how to put this in an attractive way. Guess I could start with the story about how I once sort of didn’t realize I was driving on a sidewalk… see what I mean?

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by Ieva Elvyra